Spider in the Window

Several weeks ago, we awoke to a rather large black and yellow garden spider and her rather ornate web stretched outside across our kitchen window.  The web was anchored to the window and to the adjacent screen of our screened in porch.  So the web is actually in the corner between the window and the porch.  I found myself feeling just a tad bit giddy upon spotting the yellow and black arachnid, because even though I find spiders a tad bit creepy, I also find them incredibly fascinating to watch.  Life outside my tiny kitchen window was about to get a lot more entertaining, at least for a few weeks anyway.

This has happened a few times before at the end of summer and early fall (spiders building large webs in various windows of our house).  My young sons often used to name these spiders.  There was Henry, whose name was suddenly switched to “Henrietta” after the eggs sacs appeared. There was Hilda, the big orange and black spider who was with us for Halloween and who, I might add, was the perfect Halloween spider.  There was Roy (don’t ask me why we named a spider Roy- he just looked like a Roy but I’m sure Roy was actually a female).  My sons used to awaken for school early in the mornings and raise the den window shade just as the spider was beginning the long hard work of reconstructing her web for the day.  We learned a lot over the years watching those spiders.  We checked out books at the library to learn all we could.  We enjoyed watching the spider eating the previous days web, and then spinning a new web.  We were amazed at just how intricate a process it was and how very hard the spider worked.  We watched the spiders sit on those webs motionless it seemed for hours at a time and how they could move at breakneck speed when a bug landed in the web.  We watched the spider inject venom into her prey and then how they spun their newly caught prey in silk to feast on later.  We watched the eventual feast until there was just a shell of the bug left and then watched the spider “cut” the bug out of her web.  Then we watched the web repair.  It was all very educational and quite interesting to watch.

This new garden spider, who I’ve been calling Autumn, was very slender when she first appeared.  But over the days, she got fatter and fatter and fatter.  I watched her catch a roach in her web one morning.  I watched as a wasp landed in her web but narrowly escaped.  Yesterday I watched her catch a stink bug and wrap it in silk.  I wondered what stink bugs must taste like to a spider.  Eww.  As Autumn got rounder, I told my husband she would soon lay an egg sac.  And just a day or two later, Autumn was slim again.  I  journeyed outside and there at the top of the window was one very large whitish brown egg sac.  From what I understand, garden spiders lay anywhere from 1-4 egg sacs and there can be 1,000 spiders in one egg sac.  She’s very protective over that sac too so I just let her be.  I don’t know if she’s done or if she will lay more.  Only time will tell.

Autumn is a yellow garden spider, known as Argiope aurantia.  They are orb weavers known for the dense silk zigzag pattern in the center of their web, called a stabilimentum.  The purpose of this stabilimentum is not really known.  Some scientists believe it helps camouflage the garden spider as she sits in the center of the web waiting for unsuspecting prey.  Others think it serves as a warning to birds not to fly into the web (which would cause a whole lot of damage to the web and hence, more work for the spider).

Autumn sitting behind the stabilimentum

Autumn and her egg sac

Have you ever just stopped and taken the time to watch a garden spider?  Have you watched how they weave their web?  Catch their prey?  Wrap their prey in silk?  Repair their web where it’s damaged?  Have you watched them make an egg sac?

I know Autumn will not live too much longer.   More than likely she will die with the first frost.  Soon her web spinning will slow down and she will become more lethargic.  And then one morning I will awaken to an empty web and Autumn will be nowhere in sight.


About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
This entry was posted in Autumn, Life, Nature, Seasons and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Spider in the Window

  1. What a great post Gail! I really hate spiders, but for some reason I like the garden spiders. Maybe because they’re easy to spot, they stay in their web, and they don’t bother you. I do know that mud wasps (we call them mud dobbers) kill the young garden spiders & put them in their mud nests as food for the baby wasps. I also know that if you throw a leaf or piece of grass into the garden spider’s web, she will remove it. Which I think is pretty cool.

    • Gail says:

      Well now you’ve tempted me to go throw a blade of grass into Autumn’s web! LOL! I did read that the egg sacs are often heavily parasitized by wasps and flies. I just think they are fascinating.

      • Yeah, if it sticks there, she’ll get rid of it. I just know that when I wash down the mud dobber nests a lot of times there are baby garden spiders in there. Circle of life, right?

      • Gail says:

        We have plenty of mud daubers around here and plenty of wasps. In years past, when the spiders have laid their egg sacs, I’ve never once seen them hatch. Usually they just disappear overnight and I always figured something was eating them. It’s amazing that there are so many garden spiders in the world! I think it’s sad that they defend their sacs so fiercely but then die before they hatch and something ends up getting them. But yeah, circle of life!

  2. Wendy says:

    Loved reading about Autumn, Gail. God’s creation surely is amazing!

  3. Pingback: The New Egg Sac | Moonlight Reflections

  4. Pingback: An Update on Autumn’s Egg Sacs | Moonlight Reflections

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